Beastars Season 1
Original Run: October 10, 2019
Genres: Coming of Age, Drama, Fantasy
In a civilized society of anthropomorphic animals, an uneasy tension exists between carnivores and herbivores. At Cherryton Academy, this mutual distrust peaks after a predation incident results in the death of Tem, an alpaca in the school’s drama club. Tem’s friend Legoshi, a grey wolf in the stage crew, has been an object of fear and suspicion for his whole life. In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, he continues to lay low and hide his menacing traits, much to the disapproval of Louis, a red deer and the domineering star actor of the drama club.
When Louis sneaks into the auditorium to train Tem’s replacement for an upcoming play, he assigns Legoshi to lookout duty. That very night, Legoshi has a fateful encounter with Haru, a white dwarf rabbit scorned by her peers. His growing feelings for Haru, complicated by his predatory instincts, force him to confront his own true nature, the circumstances surrounding the death of his friend, and the undercurrent of violence plaguing the world around him.
I totally missed the hype train on this one, even with glowing reviews from anime creators that I place a lot of trust in. I was unsure of 3D anime, and I wasn’t terribly interested in an anime revolving around anthropomorphic animals. I was guilty of judging this one too early, but I am so glad that I decided to give this anime a try because Beastars is a perfect example of how something different can be so worth it. My husband and I finally decided to pick this anime up after stumbling on a funny video by Jonah Scott, the voice actor for Legoshi.
Beastars is a wonderful mix of genres, a coming-of-age drama in a fantasy world with a murder mystery thrown in that starts the series off with a bang. In the world of Beastars, herbivores and carnivores co-exist in an idealistic society, carnivores eat a plant-based diet in order to maintain order, they work and go to school together. This diplomacy is only surface level of course, with the constant threat of natural animal instinct taking over, horrific crime is not unusual.
I appreciated how the very real horrors of human society are viewed through a fantasy lens. This anime faces the real-world issues of racism, trafficking, and murder alongside a shocking love story in a world that can never accept the pairing. Legoshi is so heart-achingly awkward, the perfect protagonist of a coming-of-age narrative as he finds himself struggling against his conflicting feelings for a rabbit, his natural prey, and the power dynamics that exist within romantic relationships.
The 3D animation was surprisingly good, it gives the series a certain style that is instantly eye-catching and serves as a standout example of how 3D can be done right. The first season was simply phenomenal, an easy recommendation and I am extremely excited for the second season due out later this year.
Warnings: sexual content, violence, death